Skin Deep, Bad Sonnets: Grand Metaphors
"Skin Deep" bring together a dizzying array of media, styles, approaches, attitudes and yes, bodies – and skins. The physical being of the artwork counts here as a "body issue, " at least as the work reflects or physically affects the viewer's own corpus. So a totally acoustical piece such as Michael Brewster's In Your Head . . . Set – a continuous pulsing tone hear through a walkman – makes as much sense her as does, say, S.E. Barnets multiple-monitor nude self-portrait (or is it a self-documentation?), or Karen Finely's videotape recording her process of painting with her mammary milk. The bulk of the piece in "Skin Deep" are actually abstract paintings that either address the painting surface as kind of skin (Doug Meyer's mottled all-over color-field acrylics, Terri Friedman's clots of acrylic on clear acetate, Ron Reihel's glow-in-the-dark minimal panels – a lot subtler than that description makes them sound) or hyperbolize body parts and functions (Ann Carter's giant drops – blood? sweat? tears? other? – or Jeremy Kidd's cellular rhapsodies). Most obviously "skin deep" are Bill Radawec's sold-color canvases and color chips (non-obective-looking but actually individuals' skin tones) and Stas Orlovski's grid of old lithographic portraits, each of which has been obliterated – save for the nose.
"Bad Sonnets: Grand Metaphors" sounds like a beginning poetry class, but it's advanced art. It essentially pairs two current local tendencies: a crowded information-era pop-expressionism and comtemplative and transformative take on the single subject. The dense figure paintings of Jacqueline Cooper and Doug Harvery's sex-crazed canvases (artfully quoting from the old time porno comics know as Tijuana Bibles) fall into the former categories, as do Christopher Miles' loopy quasi-installational assemblages and Kathy Haddad's mysterious quasi-assemblagic installation. The latter tendency manifests in Betsy Kenyon's photographs of plant parts mounted in light boxes, Tom LaDuke's transformation of a cast of his knee into a miniature hilltop – complete with transmission towers – and Simon Adels' flourescent tube, cast out of ivory soap and exactly her height.
"Skin Deep" at Patricia Correia Gallery, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica; thru April 16. "Bad Sonnets" Grand Metaphors" at the Brewery Project, 650 South Avenue 21, #33 East thru April 9.
APRIL 2, 1999
BY PETER FRANK